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Help Your Kids Stop the Summer Brain Drain
The human brain is like a muscle – it needs regular exercise to stay in shape. So when those lazy summer days come around, we need to make sure our kids don’t forget what they have learned over the last 10 months of school.
All students experience learning loss when they do not engage in educational activities during the summer.
On average, students lose approximately 2-3 months of grade level equivalency in mathematical computation skills during the summer months.
At the beginning of each school year, teachers typically spend between 4-6 weeks re-teaching material that students have forgotten over the summer.
What Parents Can Do
It doesn’t take much. Kids learn best in bite-size chunks. “Little and often” is the best approach. Here are some ideas to keep their brains ticking over:
Have a plan! Like any plan, it should have clear goals, tactics and a timeline. Sound intimidating? Where do you start?
1. Talk with your current teacher about learning gaps. Perhaps your child is having difficulty with their vocabulary or reading comprehension, or with their math facts or telling time? Summer is a great time to fill that gap. There are lots of great exercise books and resources online for parents to use, and of course there’s K5 Learning. Your teacher may have some suggestions.
2. Check out resources in your local community. Look for reading, math and science-based summer camps or clubs that your child can join.
3. Spend time with books. Your local library will most likely be running a summer reading program. Our local library encourages kids to read every day and rewards them with stickers and a medal at the end of the eight weeks. Most libraries also schedule special summer events for kids. Make sure you sign up.
4. Keep math in mind. For some reason, math learning is one that we need to pay special attention to and the area that needs regular practice. You’ll need to plan for regular daily math activities – be they worksheets, online programs or other math activities. Some community centers have great math summer workshops.
5. Think about what your kids may be learning next year when you plan the family vacation. Talk with teachers to find out what they'll be covering in class. If it's a unit on the civil war for example, you may want to schedule a visit to Gettysburg. If it's geology, visit a national park.
6. Make time for daytrips to your local museums, zoo, aquarium, concerts, events and parks that your child does not get to attend during the school year. Have them keep a journal of their activities and experiences.
7. For your older kids, consider opportunities for a bit of on-the-job training. Would your local newspaper be interested in taking on a budding reporter for a week? How about your office – do they need a little administrative helper?
8. Consider volunteer opportunities. Many local not-for-profit organizations need help that involve organizational, logistics, math and reading skills. Perhaps this is a chance for you and your child to get involved in volunteer work together – something that will help you both expand your minds?
Your kids don't have to spend the summer stuck in reverse. A little effort every day will help your kids exercise their brains and stay on top for the next academic year. Keep it simple, fun and stimulating. Remember, the trick is to balance fun with learning.